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Admn failed to issue Notification for setting up of Family Court in Chandigarh despite HC's dozen letters since 2017: RTI Reply

PUNJAB NEWS EXPRESS | December 18, 2022 06:42 PM

CHANDIGARH: Although Family Courts are functioning in each district of twin States of Punjab and Haryana with certain districts even having two to three such courts since past several years but as far as joint capital of both States i.e. UT Chandigarh is concerned, not even a single Family Court has been established here till date although it has been close to eight years since Central Government appointed 16 February 2015 as the date from which the Family Courts Act, 1984 has come into force in UT Chandigarh, asserts Hemant Kumar, an Advocate at Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Meanwhile, in response to a RTI application filed by Hemant recently in High Court Registry seeking complete information for the inordinate delay being witnessed in this regard, Vinay Kumar, Joint Registrar (Rules) who is also Public Information Officer (PIO) of High Court in a reply dated 16 Dec 2022 stated that vide Court's letter dated 6 Oct 2017 followed by subsequent correspondence letters dated 16 Feb 2018, 27 July 2018, 19 Nov 2018, 18 Jan 2019, 2 Feb 2019, 31 July 2019, 5 March 2020, 15 Oct 2020, 12 Nov 2020, 8 April 2021, 6 Aug 2021 and D.O. (Demi-Official) letter dated 15 Dec 2021, the Home Secretary, Chandigarh Administration was requested to issue necessary notification for the setting up of one Family Court in UT Chandigarh and to convey necessary sanction to the post of Judicial Officer of the rank of the District and Sessions Judge together with supporting staff with their respective pay scales but the matter is pending with UT Administration.

Hemant asserted that as per Section 3 of Family Courts Act, 1984, the State Government (or UT Administration) after consultation with the (respective) High Court, shall as soon as after the commencement of ibid Act (i.e. after date of appointment by Central Government in respect of State/UT) establish Family Court(s) for every area comprising of city or town whose population exceeds one million. Since the aforementioned Act commenced in UT Chandigarh with effect from 16 Feb 2015 and current population of Chandigarh is over one million, hence Family Court(s) should have been established here in the year 2015 itself however owing to lackadaisical attitude or lethargy of UT Administration especially senior officers of Home Department, the issuance of Notification remains pending till date. After the establishment of Family Court(s), the posting/tranfer of Principal Judge/Additional Principal Judge in such Court, who is District Judge/Additional District Judge rank judicial officer is however ordered by the High Court from time to time.

It merits reference that unlike a normal civil court, a Family Court is a forum to promote conciliation and secure speedy settlements of disputes relating to marriage and family affairs including maintenance and guardianship. Such matters are to be taken up and resolved in an atmosphere of reconciliation and understanding with the aid and advice of counsellors.

One seriously wonders how notwithstanding a dozen communications received from Punjab and Haryana High Court ( albeit on administrative side), the UT Administration has been turning a blind eye in issuance of requisite notification under Section 3 of Family Courts Act, 1984 for the setting up of Family Court in Chandigarh. Had the High Court issued such a direction on the judicial side, certainly the UT Administration had swung into action immediately.

Unfortunately, the UT Chandigarh Administration has even not bothered to make and notify Chandigarh Family Courts Rules hitherto which are to be framed under Section 23 of Family Courts Act, 1984 to regulate the working of the Family Courts in Chandigarh as and when such Court(s) would be notified and consequently start functioning. Haryana made such sort of Rules in Sep, 2007 while Punjab in March, 2010.

Pertinent that even the local Bar Association of District Courts, Chandigarh has not raised the issue of setting up of Family Court(s) in Chandigarh vociferously till date. Ideally, considering the current population of UT Chandigarh which is close to one and half million, there ought to be at least two to three Family Courts in Chandigarh, asserts Hemant. As on date three dozen Family Courts are functioning in Punjab while the corresponding figure in Haryana is over two dozen.

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